History of CUMC

This history is based on "History and Pictorial Remembrances" by Bill Cleveland, which was developed for the church on the occasion of its 75th anniversary in May 1986.

From a small group of people who started meeting in 1909, a partly circular-shaped yellow brick church was built and a congregation was organized on May 14, 1911. Charles A. York was Central's first appointed pastor in 1923 and soon more land was needed for the construction of a larger church. Thanks to the Ladies Aid and J. W. Myers, $1100 was raised and the cornerstone for the new church was laid on November 18, 1923. The first service was held in the basement on March 10, 1924 and the sanctuary was completed with the dedication service on Thanksgiving Day, 1925. The parsonage on N. Vermont Street was purchased in 1927 soon after the arrival of Rev.E. S. Sheppe, Jr.

Then a serious economic situation occurred, and it was difficult to raise enough to even pay the interest on the church and on the parsonage debts. Finally during Christmas week of 1942, the last set of notes, worth about $5000, was laid at the altar and burned. For the first time since 1911, the church was free of debt.

Almost immediately, however, a committee was formed and plans were made for an Education Building. Work started on the new building on August 9, 1945, and the commemoration service was held on February 23, 1947. The parsonage on Evergreen Street was purchased and the old parsonage on N. Vermont St. was sold to Jack Parker in 1953. In August 1955, the Education Building was expanded and a new Youth Center was completed. A church library was started in 1957 and the beautiful chapel was completely furnished with an altar, an electric organ, and pews in 1958

In 1962, the Sanctuary and Social Hall were refurbished for about $160,000 and a new steeple was placed by D. A. Foster. The Arlington Historical Society placed an historical marker on the church site in 1969. A chair lift to accommodate the disabled was installed in 1971 and a History Room was established on the first floor of the Education Building on November 23, 1975.

Central co-hosted the Ballston community celebration of the opening of the Metro Station that extended the Orange Line from Rosslyn to Ballston on December 1, 1979. A gymnasium was added to the Youth Center in 1980, and a lighted bulletin board was erected in front of the church in June 1981 and dedicated to the memory of Warren A. Hitt. A room on the third floor of the Education Building was designated for use by the choir in 1983.

An elevator was installed in 1997, making the church accessible to all. In the beginning of 1998, Central went high-tech with an Internet web site. When spring arrived in March, Susan and Firoze Rao spearheaded the effort to divide up the plots around the church for the exquisite garden. Mary Jean Evans led the effort to refurbish and restock the library, which was consecrated on May 2, 1999.